Are you ready to get your mouth watering? The 2019 Bourbon Classic has announced the  participants and partnerships for the Culinary and Cocktail challenge. Now, first things first- I don’t even particularly care for bourbon cocktails. I prefer to drink my whiskey neat, and without added sugar that usually accompanies them. But this event is far and away the best bourbon related event of the year in Louisville, the center of bourbondom on earth.

Every year, I absolutely love the creations the mixologists come up with because they’re paired with plates from the best chefs in the area and beyond. And if you haven’t heard, this area is a hotbed for foodies. This event is like a big episode of Top Chef in one location for one night combined with a party for bourbon enthusiasts. It’s amazing. Check out all the details on the Culinary and Cocktail Competition, plus other Bourbon Classic events below:

Press Release:

Bourbon Classic 2019 Announces Exciting Culinary Partnerships with Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky Proud; Thursday’s SAVOR; Additional Event Details

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (January 31, 2019) – Bourbon Classic has announced additional details about its 2019 event, taking place February 20 – 23, 2019. The sold-out Top Shelf event featuring Pappy Van Winkle, James Beard Award Winning Chef John Currence and Proof on Main Chef Mike Wadja will take place at 21c Museum Hotel. Friday and Saturday’s events will take place at the beautiful art deco enriched Henry Clay Building.

Riding high as the location for Season 16 of “Top Chef,” Kentucky Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum is particularly excited about The Bourbon State’s foodie chops, “Kentucky is internationally known for its bourbon, but its food, chefs, restaurants and producers are helping the state gain notoriety as a top culinary destination—ultimately driving visitors seeking an authentic taste of Kentucky. We believe ‘Top Chef’ has pushed our culinary scene into the spotlight and it’s just the beginning of the state’s culinary tourism growth. With our cuisine and bourbon on the agenda, a trip to Kentucky will always be a memorable experience.”

The Thursday, February 21, event “SAVOR” will be hosted at the gorgeous craft Peerless Distilling Company in downtown Louisville. Attendees will have a special evening with fourth and fifth generation operator/owners, Corky and Carson Taylor, and Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn learning about their storied history and what makes Peerless unique. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to sample and vote amongst three meticulously chosen single barrel expressions and the winning barrel will be bottled and available for purchase at Peerless on Saturday, February 23, as a Bourbon Classic Private Select.

Friday’s Cocktail & Culinary Challenge showcases world class mixology with classic and contemporary Bourbon cocktails paired with chefs’ Bourbon-themed culinary complement. Each chef will use Kentucky Proud products as a main ingredient, focusing on foods cultivated in The Bourbon State.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the contestants and hear them discuss their creations, chat with distillers and representatives about what makes the brands unique and enjoy a tasting portion of each cocktail and small plate. A select panel of media personalities and industry experts will evaluate the cocktails and small plates individually and as pairings and select winners for each category. 2019 Judges will include Chef Robert Bleifer (Vice President Food Network), Sam Slaughter (Food and Drink Editor, The Manual) and Bartender Molly Wellmann (Owner Myrtle’s Punch House and Japps Since 1879).

Friday VIP ticket holders will enjoy exclusive access to the Amber Lounge, which features special bourbon tastings from Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, hand crafted ice from Kentucky Straight Ice, additional culinary offerings, and comfortable seating.

Saturday will kick off with Bourbon University, an opportunity to learn from industry experts through lively moderated discussions, demos and tastings. Sessions include a Michter’s Whiskey lineup pairing with smoked salmon, artisanal chocolate, spicy jerky, country ham, and delicate macaroons. Bourbon enthusiasts also have the opportunity to attend a session with Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, who will showcase the distillery’s Experimental Whiskies.

Saturday’s events will conclude with Bourbon Classic TASTE. Attendees will savor Bourbon tastings from a wide array of distillers, then meet the distiller representatives and discuss what makes their product unique. Small plates and cocktail tastings will be available in the TASTE KENTUCKY area showcasing authentic iconic Kentucky cuisine.

Saturday VIP ticket holders will enjoy exclusive access to the Amber Lounge, which will feature special bourbon tastings from Buffalo Trace Distillery, specialty drinks from award-winning bartender Molly Wellmann, additional food options and comfortable seating.

2019 Cocktail & Culinary Challenge participants:

Barton 1792 Distillery

Jeff Swoboda, Proof on Main Chef Mike Wajda, Proof on Main

Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Kelsey Hoffman, RYE Chef Zach Chancey, RYE

Blanton’s Bourbon

Nina Rojas, Volare Italian Ristorante Chef Josh Moore, Volare Italian Ristorante

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Emily Albert, bar Vetti Chef Ryan Rogers, HiCotton Hospitality Chef Andrew McCabe, bar Vetti

Four Roses Bourbon

Isaac Fox, La Chasse Chef Kristina Dyer, La Chasse

George Remus Bourbon

Glenn Delong, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse Chef Travis Maier, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

Heaven Hill Distillery

Karla Plott, ON3 at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Chef Bruce Ucán, Mayan Cafe

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.

Nic Christiansen, Butchertown Grocery Chef Bobby Benjamin, Butchertown Grocery

Michter’s Distillery, LLC

Sarah Thomas, Bob’s Steak and Chop House Jayma Neese, Bob’s Steak and Chop House Chef Paul Sant, Bob’s Steak and Chop House

Woodford Reserve

Leslee Macpherson, Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants Chef Ouita Michel, Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants Chef Nat Henton, Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants Chef Charles Taylor, Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants

Featured Brands (as of 1/29/19)

  • 1000 Stories

  • Belle Meade Bourbon

  • Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

  • Blanton’s Bourbon

  • Barton 1792 Distillery

  • Buffalo Trace Distillery

  • Bulleit Frontier Whiskey

  • Devils River Whiskey

  • Four Roses Bourbon

  • George Remus Bourbon

  • Heaven Hill Distillery

  • Jefferson’s Bourbon

  • Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.

  • Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.

  • Michter’s Distillery, LLC

  • Old Forester

  • O.Z. Tyler Distillery

  • Uncle Nearest 1856

  • Wilderness Trail Distillery

  • Woodford Reserve Tickets for the February 22 and 23 Bourbon Classic events are available at BourbonClassic.com. Weekend packages are also available at a discounted rate. Tickets to the February 20 event, Top Shelf, are sold out. The Bourbon Classic was co-founded by Tony Butler of FSA Management Group, an event planning company based in Louisville, and Justin Thompson and Seth Thompson, of The Bourbon Review.

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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for ModernThirst.com, and the President and Chief Blending Officer for Four Gate Whiskey Company. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. He has also been published on Liquor.com. He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country, and consulted for multiple national labels. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at Bill@ModernThirst.com.

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